(Eds: Combines related stories) Chennai/Kochi, Feb 14 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday dedicated the indigenously designed and made 'Main Battle Tank Arjun Mark 1A' to the nation and launched a slew of key infrastructure projects in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, placing emphasis on a self-reliant India and growth.
After accepting a salute by the new war machine at the sprawling Nehru Stadium in Chennai, he handed over a miniature tank model to Army Chief General M M Naravane, marking the handover of the tank to the army.
He said the tank, manufactured in Tamil Nadu, symbolised India's spirit of unity, 'a glimpse of Bharats Ekta Darshan' with the vehicle set to guard the country's northern borders.
At the same time,the focus on making India 'Aatmanirbhar' in the defence sector moved with full speed, Modi noted.
In Tamil Nadu,he praised Tamil culture and the language and in Kerala, reached out to Keralites working in the Gulf countries and lauded them,saying the country is proud of them.
He thanked the Gulf nations for responding to his appeal and taking special care of Indians there.
Assembly elections are likely in April or May in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone for a Rs 2,640 crore modernisation scheme of the Grand Anicut Canal System in Tamil Nadu's Cauvery delta region,aimed at improving irrigation facilities for 2.27 lakh acres and a discovery campus of IIT-Madras.
He also inaugurated the Rs 3,770 crore Metro Rail Phase-1 Extension project that provides a hassle free link between north and south Chennai and the Chennai Beach-Attipattu train line to provide faster freight movement from and to ports in Tamil Nadu's state capital area.
A new railway line electrification initiative in the Villupuram-Thanjavur-Tiruvarur section,set to accelerate quick movement of foodgrains, was also inaugurated by the PM.
Modi said such infrastructure projects are symbols of innovation and indigenous development and hailed the Grand Anicut as an inspiration to a self-reliant India.
The PM, who arrived in Chennai in the morning, wound up his visit in about four hours and air dashed to Kochi.
During his visit, Modi interacted with Chief Minister K Palaniswami, which assumes significance in the wake of the coming assembly polls in Tamil Nadu.
He also received the blessings of Bangaru Adigalar, a noted spiritual leader of north Tamil Nadu.
The AIADMK and BJP have already announced an electoral tie-up and this is Modi's first visit amid hectic poll campaign by all the parties.
Though Modi did not take part in any political event,his act of joining and raising hands together with Palaniswami and Panneerselvam at the Chennai event is seen as signifying a united fight in the Assembly polls.
Both Palaniswami and Panneerselvam praised the PM for his initiatives.
In Kerala, Modi told BJP leaders to fight the crucial Assembly polls by reaching out to the people on the Centre's development work.
In Kochi, he dedicated to the nation a Rs 6,000 crore petrochemical complex of oil major Bharat Petroleum and Ro-Ro vessels of Inland Waterways at Willingdon Islands, asserting that these projects would energise India's growth trajectory.
The Cochin Port Trust's International Cruise Terminal and Cochin Shipyard's Vigyana Sagar, a campus for Marine Engineering Training Institute were inaugurated by Modi.
Referring to the Propylene Derivative Petrochemical Project that would produce Acrylic Acid, Oxo-Alcohol and Acrylates, which are mostly imported now, he said it would strengthen India's journey towards being self-reliant as the initiative would help save foreign exchange.
The Centre was taking several measures to improve tourism related infrastructure in Kerala, Modi said, adding that the inauguration of Sagarika, the International Cruise Terminal in Kochi was an example.
The Sagarika Cruise Terminal will cater to over one lakh cruise guests, he said.
On the Pradhan Mantri Matasya Samapada Yojna,Modi pointed out that it catered to diverse needs of fishermen communities.
'It has provisions for ensuring more credit. Fishermen have been linked with Kisan Credit Cards.Similarly, work is underway to make India a hub for sea-food exports', he said.
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan, Mansukh L Mandaviya and V Muraleedharan attended the event at Ambalamedu near Kochi.
'Go Back Modi' and Malayalam words that had a similar meaning trended on Twitter on the day of PM's visit to the two southern states. PTI VGN SA TGB UD APR ADMINISTRATOR APR ADMINISTRATOR